The Liar's Lullaby (Jo Beckett Series #3)

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When a controversial female singer is murdered during a concert, forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett fears the act was political. The polarizing pop star was also the President's ex-wife, with secrets to die for. Now, Jo finds herself in a race to extinguish the conspiracy rumor mill-before it incites a level of violence that reaches America's highest corridors of power.

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The Liar's Lullaby (Jo Beckett Series #3)

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Overview

When a controversial female singer is murdered during a concert, forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett fears the act was political. The polarizing pop star was also the President's ex-wife, with secrets to die for. Now, Jo finds herself in a race to extinguish the conspiracy rumor mill-before it incites a level of violence that reaches America's highest corridors of power.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Jo Beckett investigates a national security threat in Edgar-winner Gardiner’s absorbing third thriller to feature the San Francisco forensic psychiatrist (after The Memory Collector). When troubled country singer Tasia McFarland—who happens to be the U.S. president’s ex-wife—dies of a gunshot wound to the neck during a stunt that goes awry at a huge outdoor concert, Jo’s SFPD friend, Lt. Amy Tang, asks Jo to help determine whether Tasia, who fired a Colt .45 automatic as part of the stunt, shot herself or was shot by an assassin. The ballistics are inconclusive. As Jo looks into the sordid details of Tasia’s life, an antigovernment extremist, Tom Paine, who runs a conspiracy-fueled Web site called Tree of Liberty, accuses people in the government—in particular, President Robert McFarland—of orchestrating Tasia’s death and demands punishment for those responsible. Despite the broad scope of Jo’s inquiry, Gardiner mostly manages to keep the far-reaching plot on course. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
The SFPD once more calls on forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett, this time to help explain the shooting death of a singer/songwriter whose showy comeback entrance to a concert stage was cut short when she was shot halfway down her zipline. Tasia McFarland has always been a wild woman, so it's no surprise when she plans to zip down a wire to join her lover, rocker Searle Lacroix, onstage at the Giants' ballpark, amid billows of manufactured smoke. The surprise is that when she emerges from the smoke, Tasia's been shot in the neck, evidently with the .45 she was holding herself only seconds before-a weapon that's legally registered to her long-ago husband, Robert McFarland, who in the meantime has been elected President of the United States. Clearly there are some tricky angles here. Lt. Amy Tang, the homicide detective who's on the scene along with Jo and her sister Tina, wants to know whether Tasia shot herself or had help. At first the case for suicide seems overwhelming. After bipolar Tasia went off her meds, a timely Xanax put her into a mixed state in which she was both excited and depressed. On the other hand, she told anyone who'd listen that she feared an assassination attempt that was only the beginning of a bigger plot (against the president?) and left behind two new songs she claimed would hold the clues to her murder. Though she sheds curiously little light on Tasia's state of mind, Jo does some smart detective work linking the volatile performer to both a determined stalker and a right-wing conspiracy whose home base is the Tree of Liberty website published by one Tom Paine. The ambitious, preposterous plot is filled with interoffice power plays, suspect political operatives, double-crosses by media types and action sequences, which Gardiner (The Memory Collector, 2009, etc.) pumps up brilliantly. Catnip for Jeffery Deaver fans who can't wait for their next fix and like-minded souls who value constant stimulation over plausibility.
Anna Mundow
The secrets of Tasia's life lead Jo to the truth of the singer's death, and Gardiner charts that course skillfully. With the eye and ear of a keen reporter, she can capture the speech and manner of a self-important political staffer or a cynical cop, the pretentious ranting of a cyber-patriot or the e-mail venom of a deluded stalker.
—The Washington Post
Stephen King
If you read Sue Grafton, Lee Child, Janet Evanovich, Michael Connelly, or Nelson DeMille, you're going to think Meg Gardiner is a gift from heaven.
Jeffery Deaver
Gardiner makes every one of her characters leap alive off the page, and I personally am in love with the most compelling of them all, Jo Beckett.
USA Today
Hitchcockian scenes of suspense will rock even the most jaded thriller reader.
Chicago Sun-Times
A book you just can't put down. The Memory Collector is a first-class thriller with nonstop action."
Booklist
Breathless suspense, slick plotting and a cast of compelling characters make this a solid addition to Edgar-winner Gardiner's dossier of superlative thrillers.
Orlando Sun-Sentinel
Stephen King was right. . . . Steeped in nonstop action, psychological terror and an evocative use of the San Francisco background, The Dirty Secrets Club brims with surprises and unpredictable twists.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Gardiner has created a tough, intelligent heroine who is as comfortable kicking butt and bad guys in the alleys of San Francisco as she is in a medical lab examining carbon nanotechnology and its effects on the brain.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525951728
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/24/2010
  • Series: Jo Beckett Series , #3
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 1.27 (d)

Meet the Author

Meg Gardiner
Meg Gardiner is the author of The Memory Collector, The Dirty Secrets Club, and five novels in the Evan Delaney series, including China Lake which recently won the Edgar Award for best paperback original. She lives with her family near London.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2014

    Meh

    This is my first Meg Gardiner book and I found it too over the top. She seemed to be trying too hard - too quippy, too many throwaway lines, (way) too many overwrought analogies. It all felt very contrived. But I will say that she writes kick-ass, unapologetic female characters, and I liked that. I just wish she'd settle down the need to write like a radio that's constantly blaring, and write something more than a cardboard humanity into her characters. Then again, perhaps she's more interested in a formulaic style that sells than she is in writing well. That, or this is all she's got.

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  • Posted July 30, 2011

    Didn't Finish

    I have really liked all of Meg Gardiner's books until I picked this one up. The beginning is good but then we get into the political arena it just lost all appeal for me. I don't like a one-sided view of any political issue and this one seemed like she was taking an approach to show a segment of our population as dangerous and lumping them all as uneducated,etc (the country music, tea partiers, gun toting etc. crowd). Hopefully she will go back to the China Lake series soon. I like the Jo Beckett character and have just purchased her new one The Nightmare Thief so I still have hope for a good read not a political agenda.

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  • Posted August 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Who's The Liar?

    Jo was just there with her sister to enjoy a concert Tina wanted to attend. What she witnessed was the aftermath of a very opportunistic murder. Leaving the stadium, Jo ran into her best friend, Lieutenant Amy Tang of the SFPD, who hired her to do a psychological profile of the victim, Tasia McFarland, the first wife of the President. Had she committed suicide, or was she murdered? Some one wants her to stop investigating. Gabe's recall to active duty is expedited; Amy's parents' import/export business is raided by ATF; Amy's boss is under scrutiny from the IRS. Jo got the message and got mad. It made her look harder and uncovered a genuine threat against the president. This is a tightly written thriller not without comic elements. One was Tina's accurate examination of Jo's motivations, and another was Jo's public payback of a ruthless and cut-throat reporter with the help of her neighbor Ferd, his pet capuchin, Mr. Peebles, and a borrowed prototype for a robotic vehicle competition, priceless.

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  • Posted July 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Fast Paced Thriller

    I'm a huge Meg Gardiner fan - both her Evan Delaney series and her Jo Beckett series. This is the latest installment in the latter and it does not disappoint!

    Being a forensic psychologist has it's caveats. It can make you a target for grieving family and psychopaths, and in a high profile case such as this, stalkers, conspiracy nuts, killers, and government intimidation. Jo must investigate this case quickly and thoroughly as she is feeling pressure from all sides to wrap things up (and everyone's pushing for a different outcome) but records are missing, interviewees are uncooperative, or unavailable, and things just aren't adding up.

    Gardiner's books are fast paced and detailed. Did I figure out the whodunit before Beckett? Yes, but that's because the reader is supplied with far more information than poor Jo. The fascinating part was having more pieces of the puzzle than Jo, and being able to get a hazy picture of the situation, but not being able to put all the pieces together. We need Jo's investigation to do that for us. And even with all of that, there were still twists and turns that surprised me. Gardiner, as always, also finds a way to alleviate some of the the intensity in the book by inserting levity in the form of wit, sarcasm, and in this case, revenge on a prying media hound.

    Though her books are parts of a series, Gardiner also makes them stand-alone accessible -especially the Beckett series- but with most series, they're more enjoyable in order. Relationships and non-plot related conflicts are left open, leading the reader into the next book.(The first book in the Evan Delaney series is China Lake. The first book in the Jo Beckett series is The Dirty Secrets Club.)

    Gardiner's one of the few thriller authors whose books I can never put down. I suggest you pick her up.
    http://girlsjustreading.blogspot.com/2010/06/jenns-review-liars-lullaby.html

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  • Posted June 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    exciting police procedural

    Country singer Tasia McFarland wants a return to the top of the charts, but even with a former pedigree connection her chances are zero. Tasia is the ex wife of the current President of the United States Robert McFarland. Combining her two failures singing and marriage into an explosive political song, Tasia makes a strong comeback to the top of the country charts.

    On tour, Tasia flies by helicopter to the outdoor stage; as she is lowered, a shot is fired and the singer is dead. SFPD Lieutenant Amy Tang and a friend of the victim, knows Tasia used a Colt 45, the murder weapon. She wonders if her friend committed suicide or was assassinated. She asks forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett to conduct a psychological autopsy. At the same time, radical Tom Paine on his internet site the Tree of Liberty accuses President McFarland and his supporters of murder to shut up a popular critic who knew POTUS intimately.

    Over the top of the Coit Tower, The Liar's Lullaby is an exciting police procedural with national implications. The story line is fast-paced as Amy and Jo investigate while Paine proves a pain to their inquiry with his conspiracy demands that the government leaders be arrested, convicted and executed. Fans will enjoy Meg Gardiner's fun taut thriller just leave the plausibility meter in the Bay.

    Harriet Klausner

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